Merry Xmas! Giving is Great, but Buying is not the Solution

I am not a tree hugger.

I wish I were. But at best, I’m a mere closet fan of tree huggers. I admire people who take big steps to care for mother earth and I marvel at people who are willing to do more, spend more for Gaia.

Me? I only take baby steps.

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Then again, I’ve never been terribly competitive. I only want to be a better version of myself today as compared to yesterday.

I do not like putting my name in to compete with others. I subscribe to the belief that we’re good at different things, we’re all good at something. So what’s the point of comparing your weakness against someone else’s strength, or of comparing something you do best in vis-a-vis something someone else is horrible at?

So I won’t compare and compete with environmentalists and people who go all out to save the earth… I am contented with reducing my footprints on earth more and more as time passes us by.


In terms of doing my bit for the environment, I’m very very very far from being earth-friendly. But I do think I am earth-friendlier.

These four to five years, I’ve actually taken a more conscious effort to make small adjustments to my everyday life to cut down on the use of non-biodegradable items, and I try to practise the three Rs

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

I don’t use plastic carriers if I don’t have to. I always recycle shopping bags. I use hankies to cut down on the use of paper. I don’t sleep with AC. I minimize the use of straws. I try not to waste electricity and and water.

Baby steps, I know. But can you imagine how much we can collectively do if every single one of us take these baby steps?

And I shop A HELL LOT now less than I used to. Over-consumerism is a huge problem, me thinks. So much wastage everywhere, when there are actually people starving and freezing.


Then jolly Christmas comes along.

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Look, I don’t wanna be a wet blanket or spoil-joy, but I really dislike the whole almost-obligatory Christmas gift exchange thingy at the workplace. I know it’s fun and all, but seriously, there can still be fun if people have gatherings and fab conversation, without the gift exchange part. Really.

Why add to the stress and for some people, even financial strain?

One of my fave writers online has gotta be LEO BABAUTA. He’s like the master of all things zen and minimalist. While I do not kid myself and think for a minute that I can get anywhere near his stage of zen, he’s still mighty inspiring.

There’s an old piece on THE WHOLE CHRISTMAS GIFTING MADNESS that he’d written back in 2010 that I love love love to bits and pieces.

Every year around this time, I’ll try to surface this blog post and wish wish wish that as many people read it and practise it, even if a little.

I do love Christmas. The whole spirit and joyous celebration of Christmas are just exciting. But like Leo,

“I don’t love Christmas shopping, or the overconsumption, frenzied malls, consumer debt, environmental waste, wasted time wrapping, and over-accumulation of needless stuff that goes with it.”

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Last year, I bought ZERO gifts for the peeps in the office, although I did receive something like over 20 from my fellow co-workers.

Instead, I’d donated the money that I’d have spent buying the ‘return gifts’ to charity and sent the payment confirmation alongside a personal email (yes, with the LINK TO LEO’s POST, hee!) to my co-workers.

If I can inspire even one person to do the same this year, then it’s one person’s worth of shopping reduced for this year.

I hope no one likes me less for not buying them ‘return pressies’ for Christmas last year.

And hey, a little more reading never hurt anyone, so please gorgeous please, go read LEO’s BAH CHRISTMAS POST.


For this year, I intend to do the same with the new team I’m with. Hope no one’s gonna think I’m a blardy scrounge >.<

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Where did all the time go?

It’s a strange period…

Some of you might know that I’d recently rejoined the organization that I’d left earlier this year. It’s been six months since I came back.

I really love love love the current department that I’m in. Love the work they do, love the leadership, love how sparkly bright and how sparkling young the team is… And to a large extent, I’ve settled in socially. But I haven’t yet found my place in terms of work.

Now I know I ain’t stupid and I know I’ve lots to give. And I WANT TO give. But I wish wish wish I know which areas I can best contribute to. My current scope doesn’t seem to suit me that well, it’s slowly becoming a teeny weeny bit stifling and occasionally, even demoralizing.

But hey, I really do love the work that they do here. I can’t imagine many places in the world that allow us to do the work that we currently do. I desperately want to find my place and start giving as good as I’ve been taking. So, wish me luck!

Oh well, anyway, I’ll just try to work harder at making things work, and to earn my keep.


And it’s scary how time flies. It’s already mid December!! And I’m almost afraid to ask myself what I have accomplished for this year.

Seriously…. where the hell did all the time go?

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Wish I’ve more ‘mood’ to blog though. I’ve so so so much that I wanna blog about, but I don’t have the motivation to. Not just the Korean stuff, even though that too, I’ve loads to share. But also a little about the things that I’ve experienced in the course of my work, things that touch me, things that upset me. There’s so much I wanna share.

In time… Hopefully there’ll still be readers around. Oh, strangely, one of my posts about GETTING 3D EYEBROW EMBROIDERY IN KOREA has been getting quite a fair bit of attention. I’ve been receiving questions about it. If you haven’t read that, go check it out.


Did you read MY POST ON MAKGEOLLI? Let me say this again… If you’re going to Seoul, I really really really recommend you check out the makgeolli bars there.

And do note that the makgeolli bar (emboldened and in red in the post) are actually clickable. Just click on the names of the makgeolli bars to check out where they are located, k?


One more happy news to share.

I received an email from TRIPZILLA MAGAZINE sometime back, asking if they could repost MY SEOUL EATS BLOG POST. I said yes and woohoo, they reposted HERE.

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Talking about going to Seoul and holidays, how I wish I can make one last trip before the year wraps.

Just watched a Korean variety show where they were talking about people who love to travel. Someone said,

“Half of traveling is really about dreaming.”

What she’d meant is that half of the beauty or magic of traveling is in the dreaming of possibilities, the planning and the wish list. And the other half, then, is in the actual trip itself. So so apt!

i’ve always loved the days leading up to a trip where there’s so much to look forward for. The idea of being able to escape from your daily life, even if for a few days, is a fantastically attractive thing.

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Everyone, eat well and travel more ^^


About Last Night…

Haha, if you’re expecting to read something scandalous or juicy, you can stop reading now. Nope, nothing of that sort… unfortunately!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but this is a potentially rambling post coz at this point, i still don’t really know what I wanna blog about, haha! But I just feel like blogging something and not leave the December month empty *sheepish smile*


What were you doing last night?

Me? I was at a YOUNG NTUC event last night.

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Hehe, can’t see the signage? Here, a blurry clearer photo ^o^

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It’s actually the Youth Impact Awards night cum their annual year-end gathering.

Don’t know what young NTUC does?

Basically they encourage youth activism. Targeting youths aged between 18 to 35, Young NTUC lends support to youths who are forming affinity groups to lead initiatives which they are passionate about. Causes could be anything from environmental issues, animal rights, sports, performing arts, volunteerism, etc etc etc.

Anything that will make a difference and create positive impact on the youths themselves and the society at large.


At the Youth Impact Awards held at The Luxe Art Museum last night, some youth activists were highlighted for their efforts in creating awareness and actually doing something for the causes they believe in.

Amongst one of those honored last night was young LASTRINA who has been working actively on environmental issues for sometime now.

Anyway, that’s a story for another day.


Many of those present last night were young union leaders, and I had a chance to speak with a few of them. And boy, was I blown away! I may blog about some of them another time, but one of the things that stuck with me was something that a young woman said.

Peeps, meet NOOR IRDAWATY.

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Seems like her friends call her Irda affectionately.

I’d think Irda is probably in her early 30s? Cutting an attractive figure in her fitted black blouse and grayish-purple tiered floor-length skirt last night, Irda was undeniably unmissable last night. Her strong features and hyper-active presence were very felt.

To be honest, I saw her rightaway the moment I stepped into the room. She was surrounded by people, happily taking selfies and welfies.

Anyway, it was much, much later in the evening when I had a chance to speak with her. She’s an amazing woman with boundless energy! I learnt that she’s the general admin manager at work, and she also takes care of the recreational activities of the 700-strong staff strength.

Think that’s all?!

Noooooo… Irda is also active in union work! Not contented with just being an union member, she’s also the chairman of YOUNG BATU (Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union) and an Internal Auditor at BATU.

And…. get this, she’s also a mother to three young sons! PLUS… she just completed a 16-week Employee Relations diploma at OTC INSTITUTE and I heard that she’d graduated as one of the top students just three weeks ago!

WHOA…! Where did she find the time…?? And still manages to look so attractive leh!


So I asked Irda the six million dollar question.

“Tell me, where do you find your 48 hours a day? Not fair that the rest of us only have 24 hours, hehe!”

It was a question spoken half in jest. But her answers were serious and heartfelt. She made two blardy important points last night.

First point. She told me it’s all about the passion. I guess that’s what fuels her despite the numerous demands on her from everywhere.

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Second point. She said when she puts her heart into something, she makes sure she gives it her all.

She said it’s not so much the amount of time you give to someone or something, but more about whether your heart and soul are really into it.

“You can be at the beach with your kids for three hours. But they’re just playing amongst themselves, while you sit there playing with your phone.”

But not Irda.

She said while she may not have a lot of time for her boys on weekdays, she makes sure her weekends are all theirs. She even puts her phone on flight mode when she’s with them, as she wants to be sure she’s really there.

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WOW.

I felt an avalanche of feelings when I heard that. How many of us are always checking our phones when we’re having dinner with our loved ones? And how many times do we check our phones when we’re supposedly catching up with friends over coffee.

The guilt that rushed over me when Irda was talking about ‘flight mode’ last night… *head hung low*

I made a mental note to myself to mend my ways.


After the event, I went for a quick drink with a colleague J.

I work with a very young team. The youngest of the lot is, what, 23? And the team that I work directly with are between 26 to 31.

Yup, All over a decade younger than me #^,^#

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Lord knows I was anxious about ‘system reject’ when I first joined them. I know I can get along with peeps half my age, but they may push me away subconsciously since I sorta belong to a different era.

But thankfully, things have gotten less awkward and even got warmish over time. The chat with J quickly went personal.

She asked if I was in any long relationship before. I wonder if these young colleagues of mine thought I was some unwanted wallflower-cum-old-maid, bwahwahwah!

I ain’t always this fat and old, you know? Keke! I was actually pretty slim till I was in my early 30s! And of course, I had my (more than, hee!) fair share of suitors and interest from guys.

Anyway, yea, I was in relationships before, and longest was seven(!) years. But I kindda think I’ve commitment phobia, so I chickened out when the flat came and we were supposed to ROM and all that jazz.

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On some days (though this sort of days don’t come often…) I too wonder if I would be happier married and with kids. But most days, I mostly enjoy my current lifestyle and how I can live practically commitment-free. Yes, call it selfish if you would, but I belong to the group of people who live to make themselves happy and I dance to no one’s tune.

I like how I don’t have to run home to a crying kid. I like how I don’t have to worry all night about a sick baby. I like how I can just take off and travel when I want. And I like how I don’t have to worry about saving money for a bigger home for the family, for the expensive education for the kids, or even a family car to fit in everyone. I like I don’t have to stick to a job I don’t like coz of some condo or car instalments.

Commitment phobic? Probably *shrugs*

Of course, I wonder at times if I would ever regret all these life choices that I made. And I wonder if I would feel lonely when I’m older.

But these are questions that I won’t have answers to until I’ve lived through life.


The strange thing is that I had an almost identical conversation with yet another young colleague C earlier in the day.

And then…. I came across THIS ARTICLE ON THE PETER PAN GENERATION.

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Yea, almost a ‘man-in-the-mirror’ moment!

Aigooo… What’s all these? Conspiracy, much? Why’s everyone suddenly alerting me of how ‘youthful’ a life I lead?

But there are differences lah… I do own a home, and I do have some savings since I hope to live a simple, but comfortable, third age.

But hey, people should understand and accept that it takes all kinds to make the world. Not having gone through the wife-and-mother route does not necessarily mean my life is less complete than the average woman’s, alrighty?

Heard of ‘Different folks, different strokes’? Since we’re not all made the same way, why would we want the same things? And why the same things make us happy?

Sure, I too think having a soulmate and a partner in life would be oh-so-sweet. but I also believe that we shouldn’t just settle. I think there are very few things in life sadder to be chained to a marriage you don’t feel for.

But of course, it might still be too soon for me to speak. I may live to regret my choices, or hey, who knows, there ARE people who find their other halves when they’re all silvery-haired.


So now, how was your last night?

I know blogger FLORA, who was at the same Young NTUC event last night, had some moments of regret.

Check out what happened when she met labour chief Lim Swee Say, keke!

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